At what point should I, as a writer, begin dishing out the big bucks to attend conferences? It seems like, from what I've heard, they're a great place to meet agents and editors and writers I admire.
But I'm pretty far off (at least a year, if I'm being realistic) from querying. Should I wait until I'm further along in my MS to get serious about conference attendance? Or should I start laying that groundwork now?
And, perhaps more importantly, which conferences should I attend? I know about AWP and BEA. What biggies am I missing? And is there a resource for must-attend genre-related conferences (RWA*, CYA*, etc)?
Thanks again, sharko.
Well, sharko just cracked me up completely, I may change my monogram to that.
Let's make sure you understand what a writing conference IS first, cause AWP* and BEA* ain't.
RWA and CYA are both closer to the mark but a writing conference is more like CrimeBake, or Rocky Mountain Fiction writers Colorado Gold conference, Pacific Northwest Writers or Pennwriters (one of my faves!)
These conferences are focused on CRAFT more than the trade side of publishing. There are opportunities to meet and woo agents but generally these conferences offer classes and workshops and panels on how to improve your writing.
And these are the ones you want to hit before you even think of hitting anything else. For starters, you'll find some that are close to home, and for second, they aren't going to cost you an arm and leg.
As for when to start going to conferences, I'd suggest after you finish your first book. That will be when you're thinking you're ready to query and the conference will give you some ways to analyze whether you are or (more likely) give you a whole bunch of information that makes you rethink that.
Not all conferences are good (the ones listed above are great.) If you go to one and you hate it, it's not you, it's the conference. Try another. Ask your friends. And going WITH writing friends is a great way to get more than your money's worth from the conference. I know two writing gaggles who do that and it's always impressed me as a very smart approach to things.
*Association of Writing Programs
*Book Expo America
*Romance Writers of America
*Children and Young Adult Writers and Illustrators Conference